As I mentioned previously, I am working through the exercises in “To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop” by April Lane Benson, Ph.D. Periodically, I will share some of these exercises on the blog. I won’t share them all, but I will post key exercises I feel will have the greatest impact for my readers.
Today’s post is the first in a series that will stretch at least through the end of 2013, and perhaps longer. I will continue to write about other topics here as well, as I like to keep things varied and interesting for both my readers and myself. Yet I feel the exercises in Dr. Benson’s book will be highly beneficial toward my personal recovery from compulsive shopping – and yours as well.
In this post, I elaborate on my reasons for shopping too much. Although I’ve shared some of these reasons in a previous post, I delve deeper today. I’m doing this for two reasons:
- I want to get to the bottom of my shopping addiction so I can overcome it once and for all.
- Many of you have told me that my “baring my soul” posts have helped you feel less alone and enabled you to look within for your own motivations.
The 11 Main Reasons for Overshopping
In looking over most of the reasons for overshopping in Chapter One of “To Buy or Not to Buy,” I’m struck by the fact that most of them apply to me. Dr. Benson gives 11 possible reasons for shopping too much:
- To feel better about yourself or more secure
- To avoid dealing with something important
- To express anger or seek revenge (shopping used as a weapon)
- To hold on to love
- To soothe yourself or repair your mood
- To project an image of wealth or power
- To fit into an appearance-obsessed society
- In response to stress, loss, or trauma
- Because it’s the lesser evil
- To feel more in control
- To find meaning in your life or to deny death
Of these potential motivations for overshopping, only three do not apply to my current situation: to express anger or seek revenge, to hold on to love, and to project an image of wealth or power. The other eight reasons definitely ring true for me loud and clear! And truth be told, even the reasons that don’t currently resonate for me have held true at some point in the past.
So here goes… the reasons why I shop too much. May the truth help to set me free!
To Feel Better About Yourself or More Secure
For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with low self-esteem. I was a shy and introspective child who had difficulty making friends and fitting into the mainstream at school. While I’ve gotten better at getting by in society, I continue to wrestle with confidence issues and cultivating and sustaining deep and lasting friendships. I often feel like a bit of a pariah among women, as I do not have children by choice. I feel like many women wonder what could possibly motivate a woman not to have children, as it’s supposed to be the most fulfilling thing a woman can do with her life.
To add insult to injury, I am not exactly a driven career woman, either. While I’ve always wanted to have a career that makes a profound difference in the world and also pays well, I’ve fallen short time after time in both respects. I don’t give up, but I feel a bit weary of the search after more than a quarter of a century of trying to find my “path.”
Back when I was anorexic in high school, I used to relentlessly compare myself to my peers. When I looked around at my female classmates, I always saw others who were smarter, prettier, wittier, and more popular than I was. Being thin was my consolation prize, as in “at least I’m thinner than she is.” As an adult, my consolation prize is often that I’m better dressed than the women around me. I didn’t know how to have the better career, family, personality, friends, etc., but shopping was something at which I could excel.
So I shopped and shopped and shopped in a relentless attempt to feel better about myself. I thought that if I could only dress stylishly and look impeccable, I could finally be acceptable to myself and others. Sadly, it’s never really worked, as the bar was always raised, by both my impossibly high standards and by the moving target of the fashion world. I continued to feel not good enough no matter how much I shopped, but since I didn’t know what else to do, the frenetic shopping continued.
To Avoid Dealing with Something Important
I sometimes shop to avoid dealing with something more important, including figuring out my next steps in terms of my career. Thinking about the “what’s next?” question can be extremely daunting, so I often find myself putting it on hold and turning instead to “what’s next for my wardrobe?” I can actually come up with an easy answer to that latter question, whereas the former inquiry has my head spinning with uncertainty.
I also shop to avoid having to think about the scary health challenges I’ve been facing in recent months, the answers to which are not any more forthcoming than what to do about my career. I’ve been trying all sorts of potential solutions to my health woes, but so far nothing has yielded significant positive results. Much of the time, I feel lousy and don’t even venture out of my apartment. So on the days I’m feeling better, I feel compelled to hit the shops and avoid the morass of confusion for an hour or two. When I buy something new, I get a boost in my spirits, which leads me to my next reason for shopping too much.
To Soothe Myself or Repair My Mood
Sometimes I worry that my current state of health is something of a “new normal” or worse that things will deteriorate further. Over the past few months, my health-related anxiety has been very high and sometimes it’s hard for me to think about much of anything else. Unfortunately, the career anxiety also raises its ugly head on a pretty much daily basis, and the combination of both worries can send my mood into a tailspin.
While sometimes I do other things to lift my spirits, such as going for a walk or seeing a movie, shopping remains high on my list of mood-altering activities. Nothing else seems to give me the same “high” that searching for and buying new things provides. I know this makes me seem incredibly self-centered and superficial, and I’m not proud of that, but the honest truth is that shopping does help me to feel better. Of course, that uplift in mood doesn’t last long, but I do get a shot of enthusiasm and positivity for a few hours or even an entire day. Then the truth comes rushing back to me, along with a flash of guilt for spending too much money and/or buying too many things. Paradoxically, my mood then plummets even lower than before I shopped, as I wrote about in “Feelings Before, During, and After Shopping.” Clearly, I need some better ways to soothe myself or repair my mood.
To Fit Into an Appearance Obsessed Society
Like it or not, Western society is definitely preoccupied with appearance, particularly when it comes to women. Sadly, we are all judged by the way we look and the way we dress. Southern California, where I live, is especially concerned with the way women look, and women over forty are judged particularly harshly. As I move into my late forties, I feel increasing pressure to look young, beautiful, and slim.
As a recovering anorexic, I have long struggled with insecurity about the way I look. My quest for ultimate thinness destroyed many years of my life and had me walking a tightrope between life and death for far too long. While I’m fortunate to have made it out alive, I continue to struggle with body image issues that fuel my overshopping. I’m continually searching for the “perfect clothes” that will enable me to look in the mirror and like what I see instead of lamenting my “fat thighs” and “big hips.” Of course, those perfect clothes do not exist, as self-esteem comes from within instead of without. No garment will lead me to like how I look unless I accept myself for who I am, pear shape and all.
Not one to make things easy on myself, I threw myself into an appearance-based profession when I decided to hang out my shingle as a wardrobe consultant/stylist. While my primary motivation was to help other women feel better about their appearance and increase their confidence using clothing and style as tools, I found myself thrust into the fashion industry. I felt increasing pressure to not only dress well but also to wear the latest trends. My shopping increased exponentially as a result of this pressure, especially when I was a member of a wardrobe styling group. I ultimately decided that wardrobe styling was not the career for me, particularly if I want to overcome my shopping addiction and promote ethical and sustainable shopping for myself and others.
In Response to Stress, Loss, or Trauma
This reason relates to a two of the reasons above: avoiding dealing with something important and trying to soothe myself and repair my mood. During times of stress, loss, or trauma, we often have no idea what we are feeling or how to process our emotions. We’re afraid that if we sit with our feelings, we may crumble into a heap of tears or lose our minds completely. Sometimes we don’t want to think about the stressful situations in life or deal with the grief we’re experiencing.
I have often shopped to escape my feelings, both because I wasn’t sure how to process them and because I wasn’t even sure what my feelings were. Grief is especially difficult to deal with, as there are really no easy answers. Our loved ones are gone and not coming back and even the happy memories can make us sad in the beginning. Uncertainty, as is the case with my current health woes, is also a difficult state of affairs. We don’t really know what’s going on, so we aren’t even sure what to feel.
I realize that at times I’m writing in the third person instead of discussing my own personal situation. I think that’s because as honest and revealing as I can be in this blog, I feel some things are too raw to reveal. Suffice it to say that when I’m feeling extremely stressed, sad, or vulnerable, I often head to the shops to experience a bit of escape and relief. Of course, any respite I experience is fleeting, but in the absence of clarity for how to address my feelings, I’ll take even a temporary oasis in the desert of emotional pain.
Because it’s the Lesser Evil
For many shopaholics, shopping is not their only form of compulsive behavior. Many compulsive shoppers also struggle with another form of addiction that is more embarrassing or difficult to deal with. In my case, my eating disorders predated and coexisted with my overshopping for many years. Although I battled both issues for at least two decades, my battle with anorexia nervosa almost killed me and landed me in the hospital six times during my teenage years. While I don’t minimize the severity of my shopping addiction, it certainly never threatened my life the way my eating disorders did.
I found that as my eating disorders improved, my compulsive shopping intensified and became my primary addiction. Clearly, I hadn’t fully addressed the underlying issues that led me to both starve myself and shop too much, so I continued to need a form of escapist behavior to deal with the stresses of life.
Both issues are destructive and embarrassing for me, but at this point it’s easier to share my eating disordered past with others. Of course it’s easier because it’s mostly in the past tense, whereas the shopping problem continues to persist in the here and now.
To Feel More in Control
There are many things in life we cannot control, no matter how hard we try to manage all aspects of our existence. As a self-professed “control freak,” I often have a difficult time accepting that I cannot orchestrate everything in my life. Not knowing how something will turn out can be extremely anxiety producing for all of us, but especially for the control freaks among us.
When I find myself ruminating over the areas of my life that feel chaotic, I frequently find my mind wandering to thoughts of shopping. Without even realizing that I made an actual choice to do so, I may end up browsing an online store or getting in my car to go to the mall. Once inside what I see as the “safe” world of shopping, my anxiety decreases. I take in all of the beautiful sights and immerse myself completely in what there is to see, try on, and buy.
I may not be able to control everything – or even all that much – in my life, but I can control when and where I shop, as well as what I buy. That may be my internal reasoning, but of course we know that’s not really true. As a shopaholic, I often lose control and end up buying far too much, as well as items I just don’t need. So I’m not really more in control when I shop, but the retail world is definitely less scary than the “real world.” When shopping, one isn’t dealing with life or death issues or major uncertainty that could have lasting implications. Shopping is often much more fun than other areas of life, so it’s hard to avoid the mall or the ecommerce sites and face the difficulties in life.
To Find Meaning in Your Life or To Deny Death
As I’ve written about previously, I struggle with knowing and fulfilling my life purpose. I’ve had a number of careers and at age 47, I’m still trying to discover what I want to “be” when I grow up. As I get older and exhaust more possibilities, I’ve begun to wonder if I’ll ever find the ever-elusive “it.” This makes me very anxious, as does my lack of deep and meaningful connections with others. Although I don’t feel that my life has no meaning, it doesn’t have as much meaning as I’d like it to have. I thought I’d be in a very different place at this point of my life, but I often feel like a rudderless ship or a tree blowing about in the wind.
To add insult to injury, I’ve struggled with some very difficult health issues in recent years that have led me to wonder if perhaps my days are numbered. Even if I will be around for many years to come, I lack the energy and vitality I once had. I often feel tired and weary and afraid that perhaps I will always feel this way – or worse. I am very afraid of death and when I feel terrible physically, that fear intensifies.
Shopping takes my mind off my fears, so it’s incredibly appealing to me. If I’ve had a few rough days or weeks, I look forward to shopping as soon as possible so I can immerse myself in that experience and shut out my fears and anxieties. When I’m surrounded by so many new and beautiful things, I actually feel more new and beautiful, too. I feel more hopeful that I can feel like a young and vibrant woman once again. I get a shot of energy when I shop that I just don’t feel in most other situations. The only other experience that comes close is going to the movies, as I am then able to lose myself in the story and characters.
But when the movie ends or I leave the store with my (often too many) purchases, the reality of my life, uncertainties, and illnesses comes rushing back to me. I did not find lasting meaning through shopping, nor did I deny death through surrounding myself with newness. I am the same person with the same problems, but I might also add the new problem of overspending to the mix. I didn’t fix anything by shopping, but the allure of escaping reality for even a few hours keeps drawing me back for more.
The Many Faces of Overshopping
As you can see, there are many reasons why I overshop. Some of them are very similar and even overlap each other, but there’s no shortage of compelling drivers for my compulsive shopping behavior. I share my stories with all of you in the hope that you’ll perhaps feel less alone. I’m sure that as you read my narrative above, many of you were able to see yourselves in what I wrote. You may have thought that only you felt that way, but now you know at least one other person who shares your struggle and pain. In truth, I’m convinced that many of us walk a similar path. We are not alone!
- Why do you overshop?
- Do the 11 reasons presented by Dr. Benson resonate for you?
- Do you see yourself in some of what I shared?
I invite you to take some time to ponder the suggested reasons for overshopping and even spend a block of time journaling about what you uncover. If you feel comfortable sharing any of your insights with me and my readers, please do so. We can all benefit from each other’s insights and experiences. If you’re not up to sharing, that’s okay, too. Either way, I hope you’ve gained a better understanding of the roots of your overshopping. Awareness is a powerful first step toward recovery.
Great post Debbie! I also do not have children by choice nor do I have a career. To make things worse I don’t even have pets! I have heard it all. For the longest time I would feel bad and like I wasn’t as important. Now I just smile and say “Well we all make our own choices according to how we want to live our lives.” It’s impossible to live up to other people’s ideas of how we should be. So often when it seems like people are judging, I think that they are trying to validate their own choices. I try to keep my focus on how I am living my own life and not what other people think of me or what I’m thinking of other people.
I shopped because it was the lesser evil. I shopped mostly because I was bored. I didn’t get that busy did not equal engaged. When I would try to shop less I would add more “tasks” to my day. I thought if I didn’t have the free time, then I wouldn’t buy. I didn’t realize that I was starving for things that would make me feel creative and challenged. I don’t know how much some of the other things factored in directly to my overshopping, but I think they all contributed to me wanting to do something else so I wouldn’t have to feel fear or other negative emotions. I know just what you mean when you say that shopping lifts your spirits better than other things can. When I first started to try to do other things they seemed very pale in comparison. I kept at it and now it seems much more natural to me. I think we have trained ourselves to think that shopping is what is going to make us feel better and it takes a while to untrain. Something that really helped me as I was doing the exercises in the book was listening to a cd set by Cheryl Richardson called Experience the Power of Grace. I found it very comforting.
Thanks for your comment, Tonya. I’m glad you can relate to my experience. I often feel so alone in not having children or a high-powered career. I make it mean that I’m not as worthy as other people, but deep down I know that’s not true. Your response about all of us making our own choices is a good one. We need to OWN where we are in life and what we’ve chosen. I don’t regret not having children, but I need to work on feeling more okay with the career choices I’ve made.
I’m glad you’ve been able to find other things to lift your spirits besides shopping. That gives me hope that I will be able to do so as well. It’s great that you stuck with it until you were able to train yourself to enjoy the other activities as much as shopping. Thanks for the tip about Cheryl Richardson’s CD set. I actually really love her work, so I will seek out the CDs to help me with my work in Dr. Benson’s book. I really appreciate all of your ongoing support! Too bad we live on opposite ends of the country, but the internet has a way of connecting people even across many miles.
I know! It is too bad that we don’t live closer. We could go canoeing 🙂
You have covered a lot of emotional ground here. It seems that the core of many of these reasons is simply feeling the need to compare oneself with others. As a child, I also was shy and reserved and always felt out of sync with many of my classmates. I used to compare myself to them but remember thinking rationally that I could not really see a GOOD reason, so my mind would focus on surface things: weight, wealth, appearance. I lived a dichotomy. When I was at school, I felt a little on edge but at home, I felt completely natural and comfortable with myself. I never really understood why, until I began dating my fiance. He, too, is introspective and experienced many of these same emotions; over time, he helped me to see how truly beautiful my personality is through constant encouragement and reinforcement. He talked a lot about how gifted many introverts are: artists, engineers, designers, writers. Through that lens, I came to see how truly special I am (I am an engineer, by the way!). Looking back now, I realize that I was (and still am) different and by being different, I am exceptional, remarkable, gifted, unique. For me, coming to peace started when I was able to reduce the need to compare, or at least in the comparison, be accepting of my differences. It is no easy task and sometimes we need reinforcement and encouragement. I have found that the best places to find these things are with like-minded people, for they truly understand. You are very gifted in your writing. Perhaps there is a writers’ group nearby. I once took an online writing class from Meggin McIntosh (Emphasis on Excellence) on how to write 30 articles in 30 days. Or, your local community college might have a Creative Writing class in their Continuing Education dept. I know that a lot of your readers have offered many different suggestions for ways to get out, meet people, and find new interests. Introverts find it so hard to do things outside their comfort zone, and as an introvert, some of the suggestions would be quite terrifying to me (volunteering, for example). I think we all grow if we push our boundaries some, but if you push too hard, a backlash occurs and you end up back where you started, so it is important to recognize your limits and focus on activities that compliment your personality. For example, I am taking a painting class this week and will not know most of the others there, but I like creative activities and have always wanted to learn to paint. Doubtless, by the end of the class, I will have made a new acquaintance or two, which might lead to enrichment in my life.
Thanks for your wonderful insights, Grasshopper! I love that you have been able to accept and embrace the ways in which you are unique and different. I did much better with that for a while, but I’ve slipped back into old and unproductive ways recently. Time to appreciate myself more for who I am! I think I’ve been hesitant to meet new people because once again, I don’t have a good answer to the almost certain “what do you do?” question. But I’m working on being okay with being in an “in between” place and know that doesn’t make me a less worthy person. None of us are what we do for a living and our income (or lack thereof) does not dictate our worthiness as human beings. I did push myself to take a writing class this summer and enjoyed it. While I didn’t make any ongoing friendships (class was only 5 weeks long – 5 meetings), I did enjoy being out among others and learning new things. I’m considering joining a writing group. I want to embrace the identity of being a writer more, as that is really what I feel my passion is. Perhaps when I am less afraid of being who I am in the world, I will start to feel less alone.
Hi Debbie, I worked through Dr Benson’s book before and I remember being quite shocked at the time how many of the reasons why we overshop applied to me – practically all of them! Like you I wrote down what each of the eleven points brought to mind and it was incredibly revealing. While most of these issues aren’t easily fixed (far from it really), it helps to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. For me it helped me to demystify my shopping addiction. I was able to dissect it from something bigger than me into its component parts. So instead of thinking “I can’t stop this, but I don’t know why”, I was able to say “I want to go shopping because I feel bad about myself today, or because I am anxious, or because I’m angry with my partner.” It doesn’t always work but often knowing what triggers it helps me find a different way of dealing with it.
I really feel for you when you’re talking about your health issues and related anxiety – I’m familiar with this myself and it’s the worst – and how you’re struggling with finding your path in life. There are people including myself who believe that their life has to come down to some mind-boggling bottom line. This thinking only creates pressure and more anxiety and certainly doesn’t help in enjoying life or finding out what you want and need. I’m no wiser than you, but I agree that maybe there is no “elusive it”, as you say, and maybe we need to let go of this idea altogether in order to be able to fully enjoy the journey.
I appreciate your kind words and support, K. It’s good to hear that knowing the motivations for overshopping sometimes helps to stop us from doing it. I think I will make a point of asking myself WHY I want to shop to see what comes up for me. I like what you said about letting go of the idea that we have to find the elusive “it” and start to enjoy the journey more. I think my worry so much about my path and others’ opinions of me (not to mention those health anxieties) has stripped a lot of the joy from my life. I need to let go of the attachment to job/career = worth as a person. Deep down, I know it doesn’t, but I need to train my mind to love and appreciate myself for my gifts and my strengths, even if those strong points don’t necessarily translate into dollars and cents.
I realized I have a reason for over-shopping that you don’t mention here, and maybe didn’t think of. To sum it up in a single statement, its about not being able to find clothing that is appropriate when I am in a store, so I have historically tended to overbuy and then return the things that didn’t work.
My wardrobe is built on separates, and I have a tendency to choose “unusual neutrals” beyond your typical black/navy/beige that you find in department stores. Having analyzed my colors with the David Zyla method, I’ve learned that my navy is very dark with a slight green cast, my best beige has a rosy violet component to it. These kinds of colors are difficult to find and I’m always hunting. I can’t carry my closet with me, so I to remember colors. I’m pretty good on this, but not always spot-on.
I also don’t like to try on clothing in stores primarily because of poor lighting. I always evaluate clothing for color and construction in bright daylight. So I have to bring things home, because stores don’t let you take merchandise outside without paying for it first!
My pattern has been to purchase items I think will coordinate with other pieces I already possess, and bring them home only to find they either do not play as well as I thought they would in person. This is a particular problem I have had when ordering online, to the point where I am considering ceasing to order any garment online unless I have seen it in person first.
The end result becomes an exhausting cycle of purchasing and returning to find one garment. You would not believe how many tops I had to purchase this summer to find the right beige tone to coordinate with a series of bottoms (skirts and pants) I already have.
But I figured it out just a few weeks ago. I have begun buying separates from the same stores, usually components of a collection, so that they match at the starting gate. Believe it or not, this method never occurred to me before–I was always so into the hunt, that I didn’t realize that my solution was before my very eyes!
The bottom line is that having clothes that coordinate makes me want to shop less, because I don’t feel dissatisfied!
You raised some really good issues, Deby, and I’ve struggled with some of these problems as well. Your points refer to more practical issues, whereas Dr. Benson’s exercise that I posted about addressed more of the psychological reasons for overshopping. Many of us struggle with both practical and emotional issues. Like you, I’ve had issues with colors due to online orders and poor store lighting, resulting in a lot of returns.
I’m glad you’ve found a workable solution that will lead you to not have to shop as much to find what you need. A lot of people don’t pay as much attention to color as you do, but clothing designers do pay special attention to their pieces coordinating with each other. I would like to find designers that really work for my body and aesthetic, as I think it would make things a lot easier. Currently, my wardrobe is pretty much all separates, too, and sometimes seems a bit “h0dge podge” (but it’s improving as I pare down and shop more wisely). As I work to focus more on quality over quantity, I like the idea of buying multiple pieces within a collection. Brilliant idea – simple yet powerful!
I’m 49 and child-free as well. I sooooo understand the frustrations/irritation that comes from being one of the few women who choose to not have children! I married at 25 and had a tubal at 30. My husband and I chose not to have kids and I have never for an instant regretted that choice. It took years of telling his family that we weren’t having kids before they finally quit asking. So many people think something is wrong with you psychologically if you don’t want kids. I understand and empathize with your fear of death. I’m a nurse and used to feel that way until my husband of 20 years died from cancer. I was with him when he died, just the two of us, and I know he knew I was there at the end because he squeezed my hand and opened his eyes briefly. After this experience I really didn’t care if I died and probably would have welcomed that escape. My shopping certainly increased after that as I was trying to get some comfort. I made a lot of financial mistakes after his death but I got wiser. It was probably 2 years before I could even fathom a life without him. I no longer think about dying but I also do not fear it like I did before. I have been very lucky to find another wonderful man and we got married earlier this year and are very happy together. I am currently facing a career change and not by my choice. I am stressed about it but I will do what I have to do. I am currently trying to limit my shopping to only certain colors that suit me and items that I need. However, I admit that I still shop way too much. I am a serial returner and trying to reform. Thank you so much for your honesty and insight. It helps so much to know there are other women like myself!
Thank you for sharing some of your story, Kim. The story about your husband brought tears to my eyes. I can understand how going through something as horrible as the loss of a spouse can lead one to want to die. It’s understandable that your shopping increased as you tried to soothe yourself and numb the pain. I’m glad you have been able to find love again after such a terrible loss.
I appreciate your letting me you can relate to the not having kids issue. I honor people’s choice to have kids, but feel sad that many don’t honor my choice not to. But really both are valid choices.
You know I can relate to your serial returning issue! It’s a difficult one to overcome, but I’m doing better. It sounds like you are, too, but the stress over your career change may be exacerbating things at present. I’m glad you’ve found my blog helpful. It is also helping ME a lot to know I’m not alone, not just with the shopping, but with other things as well. Best of luck to you with the career transition! I can definitely relate there, too!
Your post resonated with me on many levels, as well, Debbie. I don’t have kids, either and have had to fend off many a hurtful comment. For me, shopping (and eating) took my mind off my problems. My friends were the sales associates at Nordstrom. It was pathetic, but I refuse to beat myself up over my previous behavior. We all try our best. We do what we think is best for us at the time. Now, I want more for myself. I want something better. I want to make better choices in regards to eating and shopping. Thank you for sharing your journey, Debbie! Hugs to you!
Thanks for your comment, Betsy. I resonated a lot with what you wrote, too. I’m glad you aren’t beating yourself up for your past behavior and I’m glad you now want more for yourself. So do I! It can be a long road, but we have to hang in there and take it day by day. It WILL get easier and it will get better. Thanks for the virtual hugs – back at you!
I’m not a shopaholic but I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog since I first stumbled on it (I’ve commented here and there). The topics you deal with are fascinating and I appreciate your honesty and how well you express yourself. A question that struck me after catching up on your recent posts and looking through the comments – do you know why overshopping seems to affect mostly women? Do men not do this? What do they do instead to deal with similar emotional issues?
Hi Alice, I remember you commenting previously… Thanks for commenting again! I’m glad you like my blog even though you’re not a shopaholic. I’ve heard that from other people, too, so I must be doing something right to attract a wider audience 🙂 To answer your question, there are lots of male shopaholics, but they tend to shop for different types of things. According to Dr. April Benson, male shopaholics often refer to themselves as “collectors” and they tend to buy electronics, gadgets, books, watches, etc. rather than clothing and shoes.
The reasons behind all types of addictions and compulsions are very similar, which is why people often have more than one or bounce back and forth between several over the course of their lives. While it’s true that there are more female than male shopaholics, I don’t believe there are more female addicts overall. Women tend to struggle with shopping addiction and eating disorders (many, like me, struggle with both) more than men, but men may be more likely to be “workaholics” or gambling addicts, for example. I’d love to find some statistics on gender and addictions. If I do, I may make it the topic of a future post!
Super interesting, thanks for responding!
Hmmmm… to deny death is a good one. I fear death but have never connected shopping with that. I think I just shop because I can. Or am I still in denial??
You may be in denial, Greetje. Only you can ultimately decide that. Not everyone who shops a lot has a compulsive shopping problem. The key is whether or not it is adversely impacting your life. For years, I didn’t realize how much my shopping was affecting me in a negative way, especially when I didn’t have debt as a result (I had a lot of debt in my younger years but not so much recently). When I saw that I didn’t have other hobbies, was spending far too much time shopping, was lying to my husband, had a huge and unmanageable wardrobe, and other signs, that’s when I know it was truly a problem for me. Will offer more feedback in response to your other comment…